Just when we thought the "e" prefix was safely retired, it returns for
an unwelcome encore. Enter the latest schoolyard menace, eBullying —the use of cellular phones, text messages, or the Internet to
distribute nasty or threatening quips. British researchers report that
of 11,000 children surveyed in a recent study, nearly 15 percent have fallen
victim to some variety of this new form of peer abuse. eBullying
parallels traditional verbal bullying in structure and content, but
opportunities for attack are no longer limited to recess and the lunch
line—eBullies can strike from anywhere with a few bars of cell
service or a Net connection. The real assault, however, seems to be on
language itself. Let's hope this one's nipped in the bud before "e"
catches a second wind. —Eric Mika
In PopSci's May 2006 feature "Welcome to the New Age of Sail," we present three novel designs for systems capable of reducing the amount of fuel used by big ships by up to 35 percent. One of these is the SkySail, a huge kite that can be retrofitted to existing ships to help pull them across bodies of watersort of an environmentally savvy version of the tugboat.
Click here to see a video of the SkySail system in action (Windows Media Player required).
Specs: Casio EX S600BE What: Thinnest 6-megapixel camera available
Size: 2.32 in. (h) x 3.54 in. (w) x 0.63 in. (d)
Weight: 4 ounces
Sensor: 0.4-inch-square primary-color CCD containing 6.18 million pixels
In 1966, Hollywood envisioned a future world where a submarine and its crew could be miniaturized and injected into an ailing Russian scientist to repair a blood clot in his brain. Although the actual future reality of Fantastic Voyage has yet to be realized, the fields of micro- and nano-engineering are expanding rapidly—giving us 50-megahertz computer circuits built onto single carbon nanotube molecules, artificial red blood cells and tiny eyeglasses for houseflies. Wait, what?
Its true. A German micromachining firm (no, not those Micro Machines) created the stylin two-millimeter shades—complete with a tiny engraved mu symbol on the bridge piece—to demonstrate its precise laser-fabrication abilities. More, ahem, practical applications of this technology could lead to ever-tinier computer processors and microscopic biomedical devices. While humans continue to wait for more miraculous scientific developments in microtechnology, near-sighted and style-concious houseflies everywhere can celebrate now. —John Mahoney
This is actually a nutria—not to be confused with a neutrino, which would have far less mass
Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, announced yesterday the first results of the MINOS experiment, which corroborate an experimental result from 1998 that suggested that a class of subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass. This deviates from the Standard Model of particle physics—which predicts the number and behavior of subatomic particles and depends on a massless neutrino—and indicates that the model needs to be revised, or replaced with a more accurate one. Now, if we could only find the Higgs boson. —Martha Harbison
Will a computer soon replace Simon Cowell? The Ring ‘n Sing demo, from British company VoxGen, rates your singing abilities by telephone. Dial +44 870 350 2560—as long as you dont mind humiliation at international rates—and sing along to one of five songs. Speech-recognition software analyzes the pattern of your notes, compares it with the original, and issues a score. But be prepared: An automated judge isnt necessarily a kinder one. My nervous rendition of Im So Excited earned me a 1 out of 10 and a Cockney-accented Oh dear! That was horrible! —Lauren Aaronson
With about 60 percent of Americans officially fat, there's plenty of blame to go around. Scientists at Duke University have just found another factor to join the ranks of trans fats and fast food: your mother. Tweaking the diet of pregnant mice had a substantial influence on their offspring's gene expression—specifically, the expression of a gene responsible for obesity. And adding a soy isoflavone to the mothers' diets during pregnancy limited the expression of the gene in utero, leading to babies half the weight of their soy-starved counterparts. But keep your maternal grudge in check: The human variant of the gene doesn't seem to be susceptible to the benefits of prenatal soy. —Eric Mika
It's not KITT, but it's close: The Honda Accord ADAS, written up in the May issue of PopSci, can sense its proximity to other cars and objects and steer itself to stay within lane lines. And you thought cruise control was cool.
Having passed its emergency-evacuation test last weekend, the Airbus A380 is officially certified to haul a staggering 853 passengers—that's how many people safely escaped a darkened test aircraft in less than 80 seconds. The A380's capacity puts it well past its next-largest rival, Boeing's venerable 747, which has held the title of world's largest active commercial jet for almost 36 years. When the A380 takes to the skies on its first commercial flight with Singapore Airlines later this year, it will probably max out at around 500 people (800-plus is for a nightmarish single-class setup).
So how does an aircraft this big get itself built, let alone get in the air? Check out this cool time-lapse video of an A380 assembly to find out, and stick around for the end—the double-time painting process is amazing to watch. —John Mahoney